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Corrugated Basics: Understanding Die Cut Boxes & Tooling

What is a Die Cut Box?

If you have ordered corrugated packaging before, you have likely heard a packaging professional talk about a die cut box. The corrugated term does not exactly give anything away, so what is a die cut box? Capable of fitting virtually any shape, size, or need, die cut boxes are the most customizable corrugated packaging there is. From a standard four corner tray to a complex roll end front tuck box with custom inserts, die cut boxes provide endless opportunities.

Die Cut Box

While commonly found in the surging eCommerce industry, this highly customizable packaging can be a key player in any industry from automotive to agriculture. From the unboxing experience, to ensuring your product is adequately protected – a die cut box can help with it all.


How is a Die Cut Box Designed?
Die Cut Box Flat

Due to such a high level of personalization, die cut boxes are typically created with the help of a packaging design professional. Using details provided by the sales professional and customer, the designer will create a CAD Drawing of a die cut box that fulfills the customer’s specific needs. Once the CAD Drawing is complete, the designer can cut a sample box to send to the customer to confirm the die cut box meets their expectations. Once the sample box has been approved, the salesperson will provide the customer with the tooling cost(s) necessary to manufacture the desired box.

What is Tooling?

Tooling refers to a cutting die and/or print plate necessary to manufacture a box. A cutting die can be a partial attachment, Rotary Die, or Flatbed Die. Designed to match the specifications from the CAD Drawing created during the design process, cutting dies are often constructed of a wooden base that is lined with blades and pieces of foam. The blades cut through the corrugated, while the foam pieces help absorb the pressure from the kick of the machine.

Die Cut Box

Print plates are separate from the cutting die, and only necessary if the box is to be printed. Constructed of a flexible sheet backing, print plates are mounted to a cylinder on the machine, where the ink colors are applied to the anilox roll of the machine, pressed onto the plate, and installed on the final boxes.


How is a Die Cut Box Made?

Once the custom design style and details are set for die cut items and approved, it is ready to run on the machine. The cutting die will be mounted directly on the machine cylinder that continually rotates and cuts the corrugated board as it runs through the machine, creating a finished custom die cut box. An accurate design is essential to creating a cutting die that meets all specifications for the final product. Once the design and tooling is set, the specialty die cut machine will run these items with efficiency and speed. The parts of the board that are cut off during the machine run process is referred to as scrap and will be removed during this process and recycled for further use in the corrugated life cycle.


How to Pick the Best Packaging Solution
Die Cut Roller
Die Cut Box Flat

Choosing the correct packaging for your product or business can be challenging – who knew there was so much to learn about a seemingly simple little box? Whether it is the visible efforts that went into the packaging design to carefully protect the product, or the brightly colored print job that catches every passerby’s eye – your packaging decisions are a direct representation of your business.

Let us help with your selection process to find an optimal solution for your needs!

About Rusken: Rusken is a dynamic, modern integrated packaging company with locations throughout the Southeast United States. With fifteen (15) facilities in eight (8) states, Rusken is a forward-looking regional organization. Headquartered in Cullman, Alabama, Rusken has experienced exponential growth over the last decade. This success is driven by an entrepreneurial spirit, focus on family-based values and a commitment to a truly remarkable customer experience. From standard corrugated boxes to highly customized packaging solutions that require robust design-work, colorful printing and hand finishing, the good people behind the Rusken name are passionate about quality, delivery and customer smiles.